One of the big reasons why the US men's national soccer team has remained in and around the world’s top 20 nations and the Major League Soccer (MLS) brand has gone from strength to strength is due to the accelerating conveyor belt of young soccer talent coming from America’s colleges.
If you are wondering whether it’s worth it to enrol in college and attempt to graduate as a professional soccer player, you’ll want to choose a college that has a proven background in nurturing young talent.
MLS is the place to be for all young North American soccer players. MLSsoccer.com has become an emerging soccer brand, not just in North America but further afield in Europe too. English Premier League (EPL) side Newcastle United signed Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United in January, underlining that clubs from the big leagues are starting to take notice of players Stateside.
Furthermore, the interest in it for sports betting purposes is growing too, with MLS becoming one of the most high-scoring top divisions in world soccer. Even in emerging sports betting markets such as Canada, where SportsbettingCanada.org showcases the leading online sportsbooks to wager on MLS and other major league sports, soccer has become almost as popular as ice hockey. Let’s take a look at the four most prolific US colleges for emerging MLS talent:
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
UCLA has long enjoyed a proud tradition of having a successful soccer team and one which nurtures several of its graduates into the men’s professional game. The four-time NCAA Tournament champions have recently moved into purpose-built facilities at the Wallis Annenberg Stadium. UCLA has seen countless graduates move into MLS. One of the most recent successes being 18-year-old Frankie Amaya, who has enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2019 with FC Cincinnati, culminating in a call-up to the USA U20 squad.
The Duke Blue Devils may not have been as successful as the UCLA Bruins in the NCAA Tournaments but they have certainly developed a winning formula when it comes to nurturing MLS graduates. The current head coach of the US U23 team, Jason Kreis, was a graduate of Duke, while in-form New York Red Bulls striker, Brian White was also snapped up after scoring 23 goals in 73 appearances for the Blue Devils.
American-Liberian midfielder, Darlington Nagbe is one of the most high-profile graduates into MLS from Akron University. Nagbe averaged more than one goal every four games in an Akron Zips jersey, helping to catch the eye firstly for the Cleveland Internationals before being selected by the Portland Timbers in the 2011 SuperDraft. Full-back, DeAndre Yedlin is arguably the best overseas soccer export from Akron University, with Yedlin having already plied his trade at three big EPL clubs in the shape of Tottenham, Sunderland and Newcastle.
University of Virginia
The Virginia Cavaliers also have a proud reputation for being a prestigious collegiate soccer program in the US. In the last couple of decades, the Cavaliers have provided the foundation for the professional careers of several key members of the US national team, namely Claudio Reyna, John Harkes and Chris Albright. The Cavaliers won the National Championship as recently as 2014, underlining their continued success in bringing through North American soccer talent. It’s also hoped that the strength of soccer talent coming through the US colleges will not only improve MLS but the second tier off US soccer too, uslsoccer.com, which was sanctioned as America’s second division professional league in 2017.